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Sunday, March 6, 2022

Severance 1.4: Deadly Ambiguity


A more disturbing episode of Severance -- 1.4 -- than usual, because

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

Well, if you saw the episode, up since Friday on Apple TV+, you'll know why:  Helly takes her life, or tries to take her life, at the end of the hour.  I make that distinction because, you know how it is on television, if a character's head isn't literally severed (for want of a better word), than she or he might well have survived.  In Helly's case, someone in that hell on Earth might have come by and rescued her.

What drove her to do this?  She was betrayed by her outie, who appears in a video explaining that she doesn't want to end the severance of her and her innie.  Though, it occurred to me that that video could have been a deep fake.  I mean, deep fakes already abound in our own off-screen world, so, surely the dementos who built that innie world would know how to make them.

The other important aspect of 1.4 is the development of Irving as a character.  We saw a lot more of him in the story than usual.  But ... what did we learn about him?  He may or may not be ok with a visceral relationship with Burt.  At first, Irving pulls his hand away and soon after walks out of the room when Burt puts his hand over Irving's.  But, later, perhaps after Irving has thought it over, he seems to seek Burt out.  Not only does this behavior leave us still unclear about what Irving really wants, it's a metaphor for just about everything else in this harrowing narrative.

I'm sure it's been noted by others, and I may have already mentioned this myself, but Severance could fit comfortably into Philip K. Dick's uncomfortable corpus of work.  Talk about A Scanner Darkly, in Severance, just about everything we scan with our eyes comes up blurry and unclear.  The harder we focus, the more we get the feeling that we're looking into an infinite regress of possibilities.  (Hey, I like working the name of this blog into my reviews.)

In any case, I'll be narrowing my gaze for some true meaning, and I'll see you back here with my review of the next episode, next week.




See also Severance 1.1-1.2:  Erving Goffman Meets The Prisoner ... Severance 1.3: The History and the Neighbor

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